The NBA offseason is a time of fluidity, as trade rumors alter our perception of the Association's landscape and foster uncertainty about future rosters.
But it is all instructive. The discussed players will all wind up somewhere, be it a new destination or the same place, and the speculation over personnel movement now helps observers figure out what other moves will follow later—both for the successful suitors and the spurned ones.
When it comes to some of the biggest stars in the game, these potential transactions could influence every team in the league—not only affecting the states of the teams involved in the trade, but also causing shifts in the league's balance of power as well.
In his six seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love has yet to make a playoff appearance. He has just one season remaining on his contract before he could opt for free agency, but the All-Star power forward wants a change now.
Per Steve Kyler of Basketball Insider:
The word in NBA circles is that Love’s agent is pushing hard for a trade for his client and has been trying to urge interested teams into making aggressive offers to the Timberwolves, trying to get something down around the NBA Draft so Love can focus his attentions on his new team.
The NBA draft only matters to Love in terms of giving his current organization the best opportunity to trade him to a new one.
Certainly Love would be the best player and most valuable piece in whatever transaction Minnesota makes. That means the Wolves would be pivoting from a failed win-now position with a core of Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic to at least a slight rebuild in a post-Love era.
Draft picks will be central to any package Minnesota receives for Love—particularly early selections in the enticing 2014 draft. The closer we get to draft night, the more information Minnesota will have on which prospects will come off the board when. With that information at hand, the more likely Love is to be traded in a pick-heavy deal.
In 2013-14, Roy Hibbert was embattled, to put it lightly. After appearing to be a breakout star in the 2013 postseason, he drew heavy scrutiny as his production plummeted in the second half of the regular season, bouncing back slightly but insufficiently in the playoffs.
|Roy Hibbert Per-Game Stat Splits|
|Before All-Star Game||30.6||.464||11.8||7.7||2.5|
|After All-Star Game||28.2||.390||8.9||4.7||1.8|
Now, according to ESPN's Mark Stein, the 7'2" center is not married emotionally to a future with the Indiana Pacers, nor Indy with Hibbert:
There is said to be some thought on both sides -- management and Hibbert's -- that a fresh start would be beneficial for everyone after the big man's second-half decline.
Hibbert's camp hasn't outright asked for a trade, sources say, but word is that it wouldn't exactly oppose one if the Pacers decide to actively shop their center.
Unfortunately for both parties, Hibbert would be exceedingly difficult to move.
As Stein points out, he has more than $30 million coming his way over the next two seasons, with an opt-out option next summer. Yet what could be even tougher is how a new team would fit him into their scheme.
Hibbert's rim protection would help any squad, but his offensive range is limited and he's slow-footed. Outside a half-court offense he's a nonfactor, and his effectiveness drops considerably when he has to abandon the interior to lumber after a stretch forward.
When he's in peak form, Hibbert's skill set fits perfectly for the Pacers as currently constructed. If the organization is looking for a strategic shift, it stands to reason the center could get phased out. That said, it's unclear who will pay top dollar for him.
In a point guard-driven league, having a game-breaking talent quarterbacking the offense can transform a franchise.
So no one should be surprised that the Cleveland Cavaliers are receiving interest in a max-caliber point guard like Kyrie Irving.
Not that Irving doesn't have his drawbacks: He's a project defensively, he has turned the ball over three times per game in three career seasons and talk of locker room discord between Irving and Dion Waiters plagued the Cavs all year.
Acknowledging it all, Irving's an electrifying athlete—so none of his drawbacks should make a dent in his trade value.
The Duke alum averaged 20.8 points and 6.1 assists in 2013-14 and he's just 22. Keep in mind that, since entering the league when he was 19, Irving's nearly a year younger than Damian Lillard.
When Irving hits his prime, it will be scary—especially considering what we've seen from him is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
From that perspective, trade offers for him will keep coming, and will come in copious amounts.